By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel got what it needed from a scrimmage with Boyle County Saturday. The Jaguars were tested by a rugged Rebels squad before hanging on for the 51-45 win.
“We scrimmaged them last year and they wanted to come back and scrimmage us again. That was good because I knew they would be physical,” North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore said. “It’s a good scrimmage for us. They have some good, athletic kids.”
Austin Rush led North Laurel with 16 points with eight coming in the fourth quarter. They needed all of Rush’s fourth quarter points as Boyle County cut a 12-point lead to four in the final minute.
“Austin Rush played great down the stretch. He scored 16 points and just kind of packed us the last four minutes of the scrimmage,” Sizemore said.
The best stretches for the Jaguars were the opening of each half. North Laurel opened the game with a 6-0 lead then settled for a 19-19 halftime tie. They would outscore the Rebels 19-8 in the third quarter.
“We started the first quarter and the third really good. We got a lot of steals in the press and were able to convert them,” Sizemore said.
The Jaguars extended the lead in the third quarter even after Jake Allen left with a dislocated finger on his left hand. Although the finger looked bad, like a crumpled question mark, he is expected to be ready for the opener with Harlan. The Jaguars do have a lot of players to pull from the bench with options at every position.
“I think we’ve got 10 or more guys we can put in at any time. It gives us options,” Sizemore said. “We’ve got some young guys, if people get in foul trouble they can come in and give us good minutes.”
One statistic that stuck out for North Laurel was 13-of-27 shooting from the foul line. The Jaguars also shot poorly against Powell County, but Sizemore expects the percentage to improve.
“It’s early and we’ve been trying to work on so much. We’ve spent some time on it, but probably not enough,” Sizemore said.
The Jaguars also sent Boyle County to the free throw line a lot and had players in foul trouble early. Boyle County shot 30 free throws with nine straight made free throws helping them rally late.
“I thought we fouled a lot obviously, but we were doing that because we were trying to be aggressive,” Sizemore said.
With 6:25 in the game, Peyton Broughton scored on an assist from Kendrick Henson. That basket gave North Laurel a 41-29 lead, but the lead didn’t last long. Boyle County’s Keegan Hinkle fired a quick three-pointer from the top of the key. Three free throws cut the North Laurel lead to six points. It would have been closer, but Boyle County struggled from the line as well to that point. They had made just 10-of-21.
Rush’s scoring allowed North Laurel to push the lead back to 10 points with 1:11 to play. The Rebels started making free throws and were within 49-45 before Marcus Carson sank two late foul shots.
“We’ve got to learn to play with a lead. We were up 10 or 12 points and instead of just taking what was there, or letting them make a mistake and build on that lead we got in a hurry and took a couple of quick shots and let them right back in the game,” Sizemore said.
The Jaguars were scheduled to open their season last night against Harlan. They will travel to Oneida Baptist Friday.
“We looked a lot better this week than we did last, so that’s encouraging. Hopefully we’ll look better Tuesday night,” Sizemore said.